Sitting in his brewery, listening to the local musicians that performed for the bar patrons night after night, one thing became pretty apparent to Bike Rack Brewing owner Jeff Charlson recently.
There’s a lot of really talented musicians in Northwest Arkansas.
So much so, that Charlson and collaborator Neil Greenhaw of Bentonville-based recording studio, Haxton Road Studios, have decided to partner to try and showcase some of that talent to the world.
The two recently announced the creation of Bike Rack Records, a small record label with a mission to provide exposure to some of the Arkansas artists that perform at the brewery and other places around the region.
Charlson said the idea came about over discussions on how to help support the local artists we have, to make sure that they stay in the region and continue to perform here.
“We have been programming tons of local artists in our brewery and he’s been creating great music in his studio. We brainstormed about how we can help support local artists,” Charlson said. “We hope to be a part of making NWA a destination for artists. They shouldn’t feel like they need to move to Nashville, or Austin to have a music career.”
The new label plans to release at least one album each year, showcasing as many local artists as they can. Charlson said he isn’t ruling out expanding to do other types of releases in the future.
“We hope to produce at least one album per year, but be on the lookout for EP’s and other crazy stuff,” he said.
Charlson enlisted Greenhaw, well known in Bentonville for his work with Haxton Road Studios, to handle the recording for the project. Greenhaw has been recording artists for more than a decade, and his studio specializes in all types of professional grade commercial recording, from making music, to producing audio for television and radio advertising, and more.
The first album for the new label is due out this fall, and will feature 10 songs by artists from Fayetteville and the surrounding region.
Charlson said he chose artists that he and Greenhaw loved, and that had been frequent performers at the brewery. Artists that will have songs on the first compilation include Brother Moses, Emily Nance, Jamie Lou and The Hullabaloo, Josh Noren Music, Kevin Kiehn Music, Melody Pond, The Silver Lining, Smokey & The Mirror, Will Gunselman and Ashtyn Barbaree.
It may seem like an odd move for a brewery to get into the music business, but Charlson doesn’t see it that way.
“We’re in the experience business,” he said. “Music and beer go together. They both elicit deep emotions and build deep connections with people.”
Charlson said that the label won’t operate in the traditional sense, with artists tied down to exclusive contracts.
“We give each of the artists the rights to their song and we don’t ask them to sign any exclusive agreements,” he said.
Greenhaw said that all of the recording for the first album has been completed, and the record is in production at the moment.
“I actually received a test cut of the vinyl today before I give my final approval,” Greenhaw said. “It sounds fantastic and these artists really have content to be proud of. Bike Rack has an amazing product to sell and represent their experience brand. I think Northwest Arkansas will be very impressed with the quality of these artists and the level of production represented.”
Charlson echoed Greenhaw’s enthusiasm.
“Wait till you hear this album,” he said. “I can’t stop playing it in my car. The artists are so blown away by how Neil made them sound.”
Greenhaw said a lot of his goals for the project have already come to fruition. He was excited to show off the capabilities of his studio to some of his favorite artists in the region, and several of those artists have already booked additional time after hearing the sound they were able to achieve at the studio. He is excited for the exposure created for Bike Rack, too.
“I wanted this to be a major win for them,” Greenhaw said. “Truth be known, it already has before the album even releases just by the culture growth that has taking place.”
Charlson said things have been very busy at the brewery.
“Things are going really well. We’re collaborating with Crystal Bridges, brewing tons of beer, filling up our tap rooms and trying to get our Springdale location open soon,” he said. “It’s a great business that has been a ton of fun. We’ve had a blast watching this area grow and it’s fun to be a part of it.”
The full length record is set to be unveiled at a special release party scheduled for Nov. 9 at The Record in Bentonville.
All ten artists are expected to perform their song from the record at the release party, along with a few others. Doors will open at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 7 p.m. In addition to the music, a documentary film about the project will be screened. General admission tickets are $35. Special “Partner” tickers are also available for $85, that come with a copy of the record, a digital download, a t-shirt, and two beer tickets.
After the release party, the record will be distributed at the brewery, as well as a few local retailers. The album will retail for around $30.
For a bit more information, check out the Facebook Event for the release party.